“I’m so sorry for your loss.” Andrei looked down, away from Maya’s cold stare. He wasn’t even sure why he’d come. Her letter had said there would be a memorial service and he’d had just enough time to fly in. Being back in his home state after five years was making him feel jumpy. Hopefully he wouldn’t run into anyone he knew, like his parents, since he only planned to stay long enough pay his respects to Cinder’s family before heading back.
“Thank you for coming. I admit, I’m shocked you’re here. You never responded and your phone number doesn’t work anymore.”
Dre shrugged, “I changed my number a while back, although I did call to give Cinder the new number. I guess she never kept it.”
Of course she hadn’t. Why would she? She hadn’t wanted anything to do with him. When Maya nodded in understanding, he had to stop himself from laughing. Even she knew how much Cinder had hated him.
“Did she say anything, leave a note?” He hadn’t meant to ask, but he needed to know. Did she die hating him still?
When Maya started to cry, he felt like an ass. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have asked; that was so rude of me.”
“No, it’s okay. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’ve been fine all day.” She visibly pulled herself together and wiped away an errant tear.
He just stood there awkwardly. He didn’t think she would appreciate his comfort and that left him at a loss.
“She just left me a voicemail. She said, ‘I love you and mom and dad and I’m so very sorry.’ That’s it.”
He knew it was horrible, but he had thought he’d feel worse than he did. Cinder had been his everything for so long, but he didn’t feel like he’d lost everything. He was sad and sorry that she’d felt she needed to take her own life, but he wasn’t…devastated. He couldn’t explain it, he just thought his emotions would be more, somehow.
“If you’ll excuse me, there are some people I need to go speak to,” Maya said.
“Yes, yes of course. Again, my condolences,” he murmured as she walked past him. He would stay here for a little while and then head home.
“Well, fancy meeting you here.”
Dre turned around to find Ariany and Byron standing in front of him. Why? Why was she always popping up! “What are you doing here, Ariany?”
He completely ignored Byron. The bastard had the nerve to show his face at Cinder’s memorial. Like it wasn’t his fault. He’d turned her, even though everyone knew how much she hated werewolves.
“It’s time, Andrei. It’s time to come home and fulfill your end of the bargain. I mean, it’s not like your great love affair can continue now.”
“What? There’s no way in hell. You have nothing to hold over me anymore. Cinder is gone.” Even as he said the words, there was another part of him that felt like it wanted to go with her. He’d been feeling jumpy and just the sound of her voice had calmed him. He narrowed his eyes, what was she doing to him?
She smiled, showing her teeth, “I’ve been patient enough Dre. You belong to me now.”
He wanted to tell her to go to hell, but again, he couldn’t. “What have you done to me?”
“You feel it, don’t you? That’s because your wolf knows its wulfric when it meets her. You are pack now. You vowed by the Witch’s Moon.” She smiled at him.
“What?” There was no way; no way in hell was he going to become part of her pack. Every one of them disgusted him. “Not going to happen, Ariany.”
“Do you really want to cause a scene, here at your beloved’s memorial?”
No. No, he didn’t. The moment he made the decision, that calm feeling came back. Closing his eyes, he balled his hands into fists. If he couldn’t control his wolf, he was in serious trouble.